A Heated Response

One of my recent facebook statuses: "Anna and I set up a bed in the basement to keep cool during the night, but it reminds me of the grandparents' bed in Willy Wonka. Yikes." Jokingly, one of you, our loyal readers, responded: "Don't you live in New Hampshire? I thought it was cold there. ;)"

You'd think so, and you'd be right. I recently read that the record low in New Hampshire is lower than the record low in Anchorage, Alaska. But the spectrum doesn't end on the low end. The record high in Miami (not counting the heat index adjustments) is lower than the record high in New Hampshire. Indeed, we're expecting a 90 degree high today. For the effects, see the pictures below:

This is a Boloco cup that I left in my car during the last 90 degree day that we had. As the second picture shows, the cup is 100% compostable. Apparently, the sun initiated the composting cycle in my car cupholder.
You never know what kind of weather you're going to get when you live here. Sometimes that's maddening, but it's often quite beautiful. As much as I like being in control, I also love anything that involves serendipity, the unexpected, the unknown, and there's nothing better than putting the air mattress up in front of the television and falling asleep to a late-night movie in a cool basement every once in a while.
Sheesh. I feel like this post was ramping up for some pop psychology moment, but I really just wanted to explain that it sometimes gets hot in New Hampshire. Sorry if I left you hanging.
[Note: A week from today we'll be moving into our apartment in Cincinnati. I'll get you some updated info soon.]

Lifetime Learner

I'm not quite finished with law school yet. I have some finals to attend to, but I sat in my last law school class yesterday. Anna and I have an agreement that this will be the last schooling that I do for a while, so I'm out of the school setting for a while it seems. After 13 years of K-12 and 9 years of post-K-12 education, things are going to change:

1. It is going to feel weird to miss out on student discounts at the movies, symphony, etc.

2. I must abandon the mindset that I can eat anything I want to because I can't afford to eat the right things.

3. Also, I will miss the graduate student ethos: making gross over-generalizations and nit-picking everything in society because all you have is time to kill.

It's been good to know you, schooling. Thanks for the memories. Still, I will not abandon you. My new profession requires, by its ever-changing nature, that I constantly learn new things. I love it. Even beyond that, I don't want to ever hang up my sweater and tie. I'm making a public promise here on the blog that I will keep learning about new things--not with the curiosity of a passing observer but with depth and vigor. Here are some thoughts of a few places where I'd like to start:

1. Because I can't renounce academia, I want to read more "campus novels." I read Lucky Jim several years ago, and, since then, I've read a few other higlights from the genre (most notably Richard Russo's Straight Man). As time goes by, I'd like to read a lot more of these books and explore the similarities/differences between them.

2. I would like to learn more about the history and craft of stained glass. It would be my first entry into the visual arts, which I've neglected for my entire life.

3. As always, I'd like to pick up new and interesting musical instruments. I really, really, really want a glass armonica and a tenor guitar.

There it is, a commitment. Hold me to it, dear readers, and feel free to join in on the journey. If there's anything you're currently exploring or would like to learn about, put it in the comments. We have a menagerie of experts (in various fields) that read this blog, so you might even get a note on a good place to start.

[Note--Posts during the next two weeks will likely be more sporadic. Don't worry about us; we're wrapping up with school and packing up a house. We'll be living in Cincinnati as of May 5th. Maybe I'll make Anna write a post about the move and her incredible organization techniques.]

Softball Game or Lactic Acid Weekend Spectacular

This is a tale of two journals fighting for supremacy in a school with room for only one. As some of you know, my law school has two, student-run academic journals: IDEA (of which I am a member) and Pierce Law Review (where I've been published). IDEA is a niche journal that covers IP topics; PLR covers the whole legal spectrum (including the judiciary's fascination with baseball). On April 18, 2009--a date that our children's children will know by heart--these two journals took the field in what will surely become known as the "turning point" for Franklin Pierce Law Center.

The gray clouds skyed the game, with only the gods and their labored shoulders holding back the rain. As representatives of the Ryder rental-truck fleet looked on, IDEA bellowed out a rebel yell. "Beat PLR," went the halloo. Several subaltern recountings said that the sound could be heard at the local KFC--quite a distance up the road.

With the recent events in the Rift Valley lakes of Kenya and Tanzania, several players quietly honored the Lesser Flamingo as they took the field. Though they would play for journal and their honour, this game would also markedly commemorate the fragile ecosystem of the world. [Note: For all you interstate buffs out there, you guessed right! That truly is I-93 beyond the treeline.]

Though everyone played with great heart, The Bondor would capture the imagination of the game. With a rolling leap out of left field, his was the catch of the game. Some later called it the "Third Inning Miracle."

Some would catch; others would swing. One would bunt. Everyone would bicker and gripe.

In the end, the score wouldn't matter--particularly if your team lost. What would matter was that two journals proved that they could come together, grapple with their differences, and become a "Band of Brothers" with the occassional "Sister" thrown in. What might have seemed commonplace on that field will surely become legend within Frank's hallowed halls. I've heard that the 3L class gift is a plaque that will honor the game with this simple phrase: "Always remember. Never forget."

Law Prom Pics

As requested in the comments of Addy's last post, here are some law prom pictures. You asked, dear readers. We deliver. Here is a picture of us on arrival to the event but before we got to the coat rack. Credit: Chibuzo.

Here is a small sample of the group that we went with (from L to R: Sean, Yapes, Jen, Anna, Austin). Big shout out to Sean in D.C. for sporting a Bird of Paradise boutonniere (also pictured) provided by his date Tess (who also gets the picture credit).

For a better close-up of the Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia Reginae), see the picture below:

To see what I wish his boutonniere had been, see the picture below:

I refuse to give credit for the last two pictures out of a principle that I have not yet formed and have never lived by.

Hearing Voices

As we get ready to hit the road, I'm thinking about things that I'll miss about where we currently live. I am going to miss the Boston/NH accents that people have around here. Some people around here have incredible speaking voices, and I love listening to it. This got me thinking about an iconic New England voice that I love.

Anna and I recently watched The Majestic. We were both surprised when, towards the end of the film, a terrific voice begins to narrate the story. I recognized it immediately: Matt Damon. It was a great surprise.

A few years ago, I saw the book-on-tape version of The People's History of the United States. I had already read the book, so I wasn't going to pay the premium to have someone read it to me like some sort of yet-to-be-literate child. But I did because of the book's narrator: MD. Behold, Mr. Damon lends his voice to Howard Zinn's text, and he reads it masterfully. I still listen to this recording whenever I get the chance.

Why do I like Matt's voice? I'm not sure. I certainly like several of his movies, but that doesn't really factor into my analysis. Rather, I think it's his timbre and cadence. Without getting too flowery and abstract in my description, I think that his voice comes across as honest. It also conveys a reserved passion that mixes civility with a "fire in the belly." It's tough to describe.

Certainly I'm not alone! If you could have anyone come and read you a bedtime story (without the creepiness of an adult having a bedtime story), who would it be? Let's hear who you love to listen to. Post it in the comments, friends.

From the Floor: Law Prom

Adelaide Macaroni Padgett is a puppy, specializing in sleep and play. She is author of The Perils of White Puppies in New England and Growling at Windmills. Her series for this blog "From the Floor" strives to provide a commonplace-if not subaltern-view of newsworthy events.

Pembroke, NH--It has been a busy weekend, and I am so ready to spend the rest of the week bathing in the sun. Who's with me?

This past weekend was law prom, so the man and woman of the home spent a lot of time getting ready. First, they went for haircuts on Thursday. Of course, Anna looked fantastic, but Austin, with each haircut, continues to reveal more graying hairs. Anna keeps assuring him that his gray hair is going to look great, but I'm pretty sure that he's going to look like a monkey on a bicycle. Anna wore a fantastic dress that had stuff on it that I just wanted to chew off if I had the chance. Austin wore his trusty tuxedo, opting for the vest over the cumberbund.
Think what you want, but my people can dance. I'd like to think that they walked into the law prom, started dancing, and everyone, magically, fell in line with a synchronized group dance. One of those dances where someone responds with "Oh, snap." Perhaps that's why Austin has been watching so many B-boy competitions lately. Let it be known that he favors Korea (fast forward to 2:30 mark to see the "sickest" moves). Meanwhile, I pull for France--for that is the land of bichons.
It appears that everyone had a lot of fun at law prom. Everyone that went came back smiling and sweaty. They slept in the next morning and departed, saying something about the Pancake House in Henniker. It sounded delicious, but they came back empty-handed. It's called a "doggy bag" for a reason, people.
There was a lot more to the weekend, but I've fulfilled my writing obligations for now. It's going to be a week of sun in New Hampshire, and I'm going to make the most of it. I hope all of you do the same.
[PS--Sorry for the spacing issues on this post. I'm not happy about this.]

Guns in the House

The New Hampshire House of Representatives has been busy lately. The above picture is from the gallery of Reps' Hall. Even as one of the smallest states in the U.S., New Hampshire has the largest number of representatives of any state (400 Reps; 24 Senators). As I've watched the proceedings, I've generally been impressed by the job that the members of this legislature do. They stay informed on the issues at hand (even really complex science and energy issues) and, by the nature of a large body, remain pretty close to their constituents. Since the Reps only get paid a hundred dollars or so per year, the citizenry is certainly getting a lot for their money.

The funny thing about going to the gallery (the balcony above the floor) is that anyone can come up there--without going through a metal detector. In fact, many people go up to the gallery with their guns holstered on their belts (you can carry in public in NH if you (1) have the proper paperwork for the gun and (2) are not concealing the weapon). I'm not sure if these people are just sticking to their principles or if they really think that they'll need a pea-shooter in the safest state in the nation. Perhaps they would argue that their exposed weapons keep people in line. Perhaps they're crazy. I don't know, but I respect the fact that the legislature would not want to hassle people with metal detectors, etc. when they're coming to see the people's work being done.

If you live in or visit New Hampshire, be sure to stop by the State House. There are a lot of historical items from the Civil War inside, including flags that were actually carried during the historic battles. If you want, feel free to bring your piece with you. If you call your gun a "heater" like they did in The Outsiders, you're not welcome in the gallery; rather, you need to evaluate your life and ask yourself some tough questions.

[Note: I'm hoping for some weird keyword search hits with the title of this post.]

Addy's Congregational Debut

The picture above is Addy looking over Henniker's covered bridge that spans the Mighty Contoocook (a northward-flowing river).

In a previous post, I discussed the farewell activities for Anna on Palm Sunday. What I didn't mention was--get this--I took our dog to church with us. Sound ridiculous? It likely is.

We had a showing (not a "viewing") during church, and we had to have Addy out of the house during that block of time. With only one car and the honors that the church was planning to bestow upon us that day, staying at home with Addy was not an option. It was looking like I was going to have to sit in the church parking lot with Addy for the service. Pastor Rebecca, however, offered an alternative. Why not use Addy as some part of the "Time with the Children?" Done.

My children's time presentation wasn't anything inspiring. Addy did some tricks, and I struggled through a comparison to shepherding. It was difficult to talk and make sure that Addy was doing what I was telling her to do. Addy, however, rocked it, and I think the children were watching her the entire time anyway. Her service earned her a front row seat with me and Anna. I brought her travel bag, but I let her stick her head out of the opening.

Everything was going well until the Communion portion of the service (the eating of the bread and drinking of the wine). Addy could smell the bread coming her way, and she positioned herself for the strike. Fortunately, I was on top of it and stuffed her head back in the bag with the soft part of my arm (some would consider it part of the arm pit) just as the bread plate was lowered to striking distance. In the Christian tradition and the Last Supper story, the bread represents the body of Jesus. If Addy had it her way, she would have cleaned Jesus right off the plate. Not good.

Besides that one incident, she was a great dog, and people told us that she was the best behaved dog they had seen. She is pretty much the most awesome dog ever. Still, I couldn't help thinking how preposterous it was to sit in a historical building (bedecked with a Paul Revere bell) with my 3.5 year old puffball. Simply preposterous.

Anna's Congregational Farewell

Today was Palm Sunday and Anna's next-to-last Sunday as the choir director at Henniker Congregational. If anyone is out there is looking for some people that will show them some serious love, look no further than the people of this church. They've become family to us. Today, they showered me and Anna with incredible gifts and memories.

Here are a couple of pictures of Anna's last choir rehearsal:

I'm really proud of Anna and the ground she has covered with this choir. We've done some incredibly difficult pieces of music, and I think that the choir is in terrific shape for the incoming director. As I've said before, there is a wealth of musical talent in Henniker--from opera singers to bluegrass buffs, and Anna has done a great job of putting all the pieces together to create some great musical experiences. I'm also particularly proud that she taught proper singing technique without sacrificing the emotional qualities found in the music. Well done, Anna!

At the end of today's service, the music committee presented some farewell gifts to Anna. Dr. Bob thanked us for our music, and then Marcus (one of Anna's children's choir members) presented Anna with a gift certificate to the spa in Pembroke. Henniker's resident quilter (and owner of Quilted Threads--awesome store) Becky created a quilt that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. My picture below isn't the best for seeing the details, but she has pieces of fabric with choir members' names placed into a quilt with songbird fabric. The piece is framed and ready for hanging in our new pad. We can't wait to tell people the story behind it.

An added bonus to the quilt is that there is a sonnet written by Henniker's resident poet (lyricist to "Austin and Anna" in previous post) attached to the back of the frame. Tom gave us a reading of the sonnet during the service today, and I snapped a picture for you to see:

It's another one of those things that we'll share with our children and their children. I'll probably have it memorized like Tom after I show it off to a few people.
Jack Bopp (member of The Prodigals, Pierce Pettis fan, and an incredible musician) and company hosted a coffee hour reception after the service with sweet treats, including an awesome punch! Here's a picture of the cake (delicious):

When Anna told me that she wanted to work in Henniker, I told her that I had never heard of the place. When she told me that she wanted to work at a Congreational church, I had to look it up in my denominational handbook. Now, after only three, quick years, we have friends and memories that we'll never forget. We'll miss you, Henniker.